Ford Escape Hybrid Transmission Questions

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372
edited October 2014 in Ford
Discuss your Escape hybrid transmission questions here.


  • escape1escape1 Member Posts: 1
    I purchased a 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid in Oct 2004. Currently our escape hybrid has 13000 miles. It has now been in the shop for two weeks. It started overheating and breaking down on the freeway. We took it into the local dealer and was told that the Eletric Motor Failed. After a week in the shop and Electric Motor being serviced, we were then contacted that it is the transmission. Ford has requested the failed transmission to be sent to their engineers for inspection. Has anyone else had this problem? I found an intersting article on If anyone has additional information they would like to share, please do so. Thanks
  • earear Member Posts: 6
    I have anecdotal info only: I spoke with a Hybrid owner in No. California who stated her transmission failed at 1200 mi., and she claimed Ford had a crew from Japan come out to look at it. I don't know this person or how to track this down, just wanted to let you know that apparently someone else has had a problem with the CVT... take it for what it's worth.

    Regarding the article you mentioned, it refers to a recall of 400k+ non-hybrid Escapes for an accelerator problem that causes the engine to race. I doubt that will apply to your Hybrid.
  • stevewastevewa Member Posts: 203
    This is a new one to me. We have 10k miles with no problems so far.

    The electric motors (there are two of them, btw) and the transmission are all a single unit, which is sourced from a Japanese company (Aisin) that also makes the same components for Toyota, though there are likely design differences between the two.

    There were a few problems reported where the coolant pump for the motor/electronic system had problems, if that failed and didn't give you a warning that could cause the motors to overheat.
  • oldjoeoldjoe Member Posts: 132
    Toyota is already in the next generation of hybrids and consider the Ford Technology sort of out-of-date. It will take a while for domestic manufacturers to catch upm on hybrid techmology, but it is coming.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Member Posts: 18,230
    i can see why toyota wants to move into the next generation, considering the stalling issues, and the patent infringement lawsuit. ;)
    2020 Ford Explorer XLT, 91 Mustang GT vert
  • sarahfromscsarahfromsc Member Posts: 10
    I thought Ford used Japanese technology for their hybrid. And that for either 2006, 0r 2007 they had "improved" on it.

    I bought my hybrid Labor Day weekend and it has been back to the dealership three times. The first time was for a grinding whinny sound from underneath the vehicle, which I was told was "normal" but I find that highly suspect. The second time was for when the "wrench" light and the "master vehicle electrical hazard" warning light came on 5 times during a drive from PA to SC. The local dealership called in reinforcements and Ford flew two engineers from somewhere to check the vehicle over. They did find error codes that they could not decipher (maybe the Japanese threw them) and they flew back to try to decode the error codes. The vehicle is now back in the shop receiving a new transmission that a design engineer said it needed. We shall see.

    Basically I have a few questions: does anyone else hear the grinding whinny noise coming from underneath the vehicle when moving?; has anyone else had warning signals come on after a long highway drive? ; does anyone else feel a slight hesitation when pulling away from a stop sing/light....feels as if the back wheels hesitate? I'm only getting about 27mph in city traffic (that stinks); have y'alls RPMs revved out of control?
  • stevedebistevedebi Member Posts: 4,098
    "I thought Ford used Japanese technology for their hybrid."

    This is a common misconception. According to Ford, the independently developed a system so similar in concept to the Toyota HSD system, that they had to license the technology. But they claim that Ford did not get the system from Toyota. Too bad, it would have saved them a lot of learning curve.
  • stevewastevewa Member Posts: 203
    Sorry to hear about your problems, it sounds like the engineering team has come to the conclusion you need a new transaxle. You are correct in that the hybrid transaxle (which contains the power split device, and the two electric motor/generators) is manufactured in Japan by Aisin, a large maker of transmissions used by many carmakers, but the design (along with the design of the Escape's complete hybrid system) is Ford's.

    The 2006 is basically unchanged from the 2005 except for option packages and availability of new ones like the moonroof and heated seats/mirrors.

    As far as noises go, I have occasionally heard a grinding/scraping sound from the rear wheels. I believe it is caused by the parking brake, as I've stated previously. I have not had this noise in a long time, however (several months) so I don't know if it's been dealt with. The dealer claimed they could not isolate anything. A sharp pull on the parking brake handle last time it happened is what convinced me as to the nature of the issue.

    As far as 27MPG in city traffic "stinking", it really depends on a number of factors, including:
    1. Trip won't see the benefit of the hybrid system until the engine and most importantly the catalytic converter are fully warmed up. 20 minutes is usually the break-even point here.
    2. Acceleration/Braking. The harder you do both, the lower your efficiency. Try to anticipate stopping and coast as much as traffic will allow. A light brake application will be more biased towards regenerative braking, a heavy one will engage the friction brakes, wasting energy as heat instead of capturing it in your battery.

    When you say revving out of control...under what circumstances does this occur? When accelerating hard or climbing a hill it's perfectly normal for the engine to rev up in the 4-5k range. The computer is choosing the RPM which allows the system to run most efficiently while meeting your demand for torque This is why letting up on the pedal will drop the RPM immediately. The other condition that causes high RPM is when you use the "L" shifter position going downhill. Once the battery has stored all the energy the computer will let it, the energy will be redirected to spinning the engine at up to 4k's not actually consuming any (significant amount of) fuel, it's just using the engine as a place to dump the excess energy.

    Hope this helps.
  • sarahfromscsarahfromsc Member Posts: 10
    I do appreciate your reply and your words have helped a lot. However (isn't there always a "however" or "but"?), the hybrid tech at the dealership said they were dropping in a new transmission (due to the design engineers recommendation). Is a transaxle the same thing? I am very ignorant on this subject and am trying to educate myself so I can be a better car owner when I'm really old, I'm only partial old now.

    As for the gas mileage, I can say that it has improved since I bought the car a month ago, so I feel better about the 27 mph then I did the 24.5! I have been very, very self conscious about being lead footed. I had a huge V-8 Lincoln Continental prior to this car, and it was FUN to have a lead foot in that car. So I kinda creep from stop lights and signs, etc., trying to keep the gas engine from kicking on.....kinda a dumb mind game I'm playing on myself.

    The RPMs went crazy while traveling in WVA, VA, and NC. I would be cruising along at 70mph and the RPMs would zoom up to 6 then down to 4 and then race back to 6.5 then drop to 5. I finally pulled and stopped the car. I tried the cruise control thinking I must have been pressing the gas pedal inadvertently, the racing was worse then. It was particularly bad in the mountainous areas of VA and WVA (traveling down I 77).

    Do you have any ideas on the "slipping" feeling in the back end that I am experiencing? Or is that all part of the transmission/transaxle thing?

    Again, thank you SO much for your input. It was appreciated, and I learned much!
  • sarahfromscsarahfromsc Member Posts: 10
    Oh, and this is a PS:

    I do like the little suv, it handles well, the interior "fits" me, and it fits my lifestyle. I just feel a little snake bit at the moment. So, I don't want anyone to think that I am bashing the hybrid, just questing for knowledge so I can go to the dealership and offer suggestions, or at least be able to ask intelligent questions!
  • stevewastevewa Member Posts: 203
    Given the symptoms you're reporting the tranaxle (transmission in a FWD based vehicle is referred to as a transaxle because it includes the differential) is likely the culprit. The other possibility is the PCM (computer) but it sounds like they've eliminated that possibility to their satisfaction...the PCM is much cheaper so they'd try that first if there was a chance of it being the problem.

    You should NOT be seeing the behavior you describe.
  • sarahfromscsarahfromsc Member Posts: 10
    Thank you again for clarifying! Lordy, am I learning a lot.

    I hope y'all do not mind one more question. I have the new transaxle in, now my gas mileage has dropped from 27 miles per gallon to 23.5. I know I said that 27 stunk, but 23.5 really, really stinks. Is this because this new transaxle needs to "break-in"?
  • stevewastevewa Member Posts: 203
    More likely it's because they did a lot of engine idling when they were working on your car :-)

    The computer will have to re-learn fuel trim and the like so the first few tanks might be sub-par. Good luck...hope they found the problem.
  • mschmalmschmal Member Posts: 1,757
    The Fuel Economy Gauge is a cumlative average. If you want an acruate intant reading, reset the guage periodically.

  • nsuppnsupp Member Posts: 1
    As I was driving up to my home in the Virginia mountains I noticed the mpg's dropping suddenly from 27.7 to 22.5. It just tanked. I reached the top of one of the hills and coasted down and the mpg's increased, then dropped again as I drove up the hill to my house. What is happening and if I leave in the AM to go to work what should I expect? Thanks for any help you can give me.
  • bdymentbdyment Member Posts: 573
    The engine is using a lot more gas going up the hill. A lot more power required. Uses almost nothing going down. The read out is simply stating that fact.
  • battery_manbattery_man Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2005 Escape Hybrid with nearly 150,000 miles. It drives great and I am averaging 30 + MPG but sometimes when I am going up a steep hill the transmission will rev to 6k or more. It never seems to "slip" but I'm concerned because I don't know if that is normal or not. Should it rev that high under a heavy load uphill?
  • escape6escape6 Member Posts: 7
    My 2006 FEH required a new transmission according to the local Ford dealer, however none are available through the Ford factory channel. I was told I would have to have one custom built in Japan at a cost of $14,000 and delivery would be uncertain. My dealer said try and find one out of a wreck. After internet searches, I bought a new one from a surplus dealer who bought 3 from Ford factory surplus... The Ford dealer cannot get this transmission to talk to the car. The tech spent 2 hours playing with it and got nowhere. Anyone else had this problem? The parts guy says there were 4 different transmissions and not all are compatible... However this was a "new" transmission so it had no previous "connection" to any other vehicle. The issue seems to be a computer looking for "as built codes"... However since my new transmission has never been installed, there is no VIN associated with it. When I see the hassles with FEH, I wonder how much time the factory spends with a new FEH programming all of the stuff to work together. This critter is worse than Windows 95 with a homemade computer. and plug & play cards...

    I need help...

    Rocky :lemon:
  • escape6escape6 Member Posts: 7
    Dear Listers,

    We have a 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid with 37,000 miles which spends most of its time in the shop or riding around on the back of a tow truck. Our Escape was an insurance write off at 2300 miles and we bought it at 3,000 miles total time running and repaired without warranty. I need to talk to someone who is an expert on the Japanese transaxles used in both the Escape and Prius vehicles. My Escape transmission is gone south (supposedly) and we bought a replacement transmission (brand new surplus) which won't talk to our car properly. The issue relates around the computer security system (PATS). It seems our old transmission was PATS and the new one I bought is non PATS. PATS has to do with the encoded key systems. The FEH has been at two dealers for 5 weeks now and we are no closer to solving the problem(s). The dealer is advising against ordering a factory transmission at this time.

    The issues with these Ford Toyoda aisin yes I mean aisin not Asian ECVT transaxles is that
    1. they are not dealer serviceable, or transmission shop serviceable,
    2. they are not depot serviceable
    3. there don't seem to be any service manuals out there for them,
    4. new ones cost $14,000 Canadian and have to be custom built in Japan,
    5. neither the dealer nor I are sure the real problem was the transaxle in the first place.

    Since I did not have to return my original ECVT transaxle, the question is if we remove the "New non communicating non PATS transaxle" can we rebuilt the old one that has PATS incorporated in it? in other words take two transaxles apart and build one working one. or is there any on this list who can hack the toyoda code on the ford transaxle? I assume these codes are some kind of machine language rather than Japanese commands?

    From the fleeting glances I have made at some of the edmunds messages I suspect there are guys and gals and mechanics, engineers, and programmers on this list who know this stuff or know people who know how to do what I am talking about. Anyone who has taken apart a ford escape hybrid or toyota prius transaxle and found what caused it fail please respond as well. If this is a hopeless project these comments would also be welcome. We deliberately have not messed with any of the Ford transaxle guts. It is unbolted and sitting in the dealer shop on a bench and looks just fine. The output shaft looks new...

    Please respond directly to Rocky at [email protected]

    Rocky near Edmonton, Alberta
  • landvanooitlandvanooit Member Posts: 2
    I was wandering why my escape 2.3 hybrid 2005 doesnt shift anylonger but 'low gearing'?
    There is no way this lowgear is able to put otherwise..
    Also the dealergarage doesnt have a solution for this problem with CVT gearing/shifting.

    Could anyone tell me if you are familiar with this problem?

    What else could be damaged by this problem of driving long period (3 months) in low gear...

    thanks in advance!
  • stevedebistevedebi Member Posts: 4,098
    "I was wandering why my escape 2.3 hybrid 2005 doesnt shift anylonger but 'low gearing'?
    There is no way this lowgear is able to put otherwise..
    Also the dealergarage doesnt have a solution for this problem with CVT gearing/shifting. "

    I find your post unclear. The FEH does not shift gears at any time. On the "L" setting it simply puts more energy back into the battery when you let off the gas, instead of allowing the vehicle to glide.

    Many people actually use "L" all the time, which won't hurt anything, but the fact is that if your "D" isn't working right, something is wrong with either the software or your CVT. Have it checked by a dealer.
  • landvanooitlandvanooit Member Posts: 2

    It's so that the other options of the CVT dont work anylonger, the poke does go in P or L, other options out of order...

    I'm afraid that the whole CVT needs to be replaced, and also dealers around my town dont give prices on that because Escape is not a model that's regular in the Netherlands, so all parts etc. need to come from abroad.

    Maybe someone knows prices of a new CVT ofr tricks to solve this L-gear problem?

    Thanks in advance,

  • stevedebistevedebi Member Posts: 4,098
    "It's so that the other options of the CVT dont work anylonger, the poke does go in P or L, other options out of order... "

    Are you saying that the shifter won't go into "R" , "N", or "D"? That could be s simple mechanical problem with the shift lever.
  • hevincalihevincali Member Posts: 7
    Did you ever get your transaxle to talk to the vehicle?
    My transmission seized up on me a month ago. I have an early 2006 model and bought a used 2005 transaxle since according to the parts store they are the same model. I installed it over the weekend and went to start the vehicle this morning and it starts but then immediately shuts off with the familiar stop safely now message. The theft light also comes on. I've got a computerized scan tool that I'm going to try tonight but am looking for any helpful information...
  • mpethtelmpethtel Member Posts: 1
    My hybrid is not shifting right. I was getting good gas mileage and now I am not. When I took to ford they said there was no codes and no light to indicate trouble. I said the transmission isn't shifting right I can get up to 5 or 6k and let off gas and may it drops a little. Its like its not shifting at all. when on the interstate to pass the rpms go way up and its like I am in a low gear, and 15 mpg is the highest I get. I am not sure what to do or what to replace since ford has no idea.
  • stevedebistevedebi Member Posts: 4,098
    edited August 2011
    "My hybrid is not shifting right. I was getting good gas mileage and now I am not. When I took to ford they said there was no codes and no light to indicate trouble. I said the transmission isn't shifting right I can get up to 5 or 6k and let off gas and may it drops a little. Its like its not shifting at all. when on the interstate to pass the rpms go way up and its like I am in a low gear, and 15 mpg is the highest I get. I am not sure what to do or what to replace since ford has no idea. "

    That sounds like the battery may not be functioning. The Atkinson cycle gets poor efficiency at low speeds; the battery drive compensates for this. Either the battery is failing or perhaps the cooling fans are not working. If you get a ScanGuage, it will tell you the state of charge of the battery.

    I'm assuming you have an older FEH, not a 2009 or newer...
This discussion has been closed.